It’s always been amazing to me the pendulum swing that Star Wars went through over the course of about two months. Because The Mandalorian Season 1 came out in November 2019, and then The Rise of Skywalker came out in December 2019. And when that movie came out, many had lost hope for the future, but then by the time Mando’s first season ended, everyone was on board with what would come next. Season 2 helped bolster that feeling, and the live-action series and spinoffs kicked off from there. But no matter what was released, it was always going to come back to Mando and Baby Yoda (or Grogu…however you want to call him). So are they still a recipe for success? My The Mandalorian Season 3 Review will tell you that this is, in fact, still mostly…the way…again.
Ok, before I dive into this review, I do want to calm some of you long-time readers down. This won’t be a massive beatdown like my review of Andor was. I will admit I was afraid of how things would turn out in my binge of Season 3 based on some of the discourse I saw online over certain episodes. But while I did agree with some of their discourse, I still found the season enjoyable, and if you read my reviews of Season 1 and Season 2…you’ll see a consistent score.
To briefly recap Mando S2 and The Book of Boba Fett (something I’ll bring up later), Din Djarin/Mando and Baby Yoda/Grogu are reunited. As part of his “redemption” for taking off his helmet to his Foundling, he must “bathe in the living waters of Mandalore.” Only then could he return to his fellow Children of the Watch. What follows is an interesting look at the Mandalorian culture from many sides. We see not only the return of Bo-Katan, who we see throughout the season, and I didn’t mind it at all, and who plays a big role in all that happens, but we saw the “halves” of the Mandalorian people come together for the good of their people. Katie Sackhoff was in top form showing off the many sides of the fallen leader of Mandalore, and I was amazed at some of the directions they went with her.
In truth, they could’ve easily dedicated the entire season to just the unification of the tribes. As we saw in Season 2, the “true Mandalorians” and the Children of the Watch are very different in beliefs, styles, and what they feel makes a Mandalorian. Din Djarin and Bo-Katan are the “faces” of those sides, and they showed many times how different they are. However, through Bo-Katan, in a move I loved, they slowly converted her into a believer in The Watch’s side of things, and through her being a “walker of both worlds,” is how she brought everyone together. It was a slow burn at times, but it worked…outside of a scene or two, as I’ll note later.
I truly feel that one of my favorite parts of the season was just seeing so many Mandalorians together. And props to the costume department for making all those unique armors! It was great seeing them as a true culture in live-action versus only seeing a handful of them from time to time.
That also led to another great part of the season (and a consistent thing throughout the series), the fight scenes. It was already a great action-packed show, but Season 3 ramped things up by having the Mandalorians working together in groups and as an army to take on pirates, beasts, and the remnants of The Empire. The last episode alone had some epic action and a “last man standing” moment that rivals a certain Clone Trooper from a beloved miniseries. I almost hesitate to think about how they’re going to top this. It’s almost a “John Wick Effect” kind of thing where you can only top fight scenes so many times!
For those wondering why I haven’t mentioned Mando and Baby Yoda yet, it’s because they were honestly a bit of a side duo this season. But don’t worry, they had plenty to do, and they were epic and adorable while doing it. They went above and beyond with the puppet for Baby Yoda/Grogu, making him feel more expressive, more emotional, and arguably more alive than ever before. Plus, we learn another key part of his origin story, and you can see how his past is still affecting his present, which is represented in how well he handles himself in key moments.
The banter between him and Din was great, and they got a “happy ending” moment in the season finale that will surely warm your hearts and make you want to see this “new family” sooner rather than later.
Oh, and Pedro Pascal continues to prove he can do no wrong. From his blunt way of handling things to his own kind of “physical comedy” to the way he treated Grogu like a son, you’ll remember very quickly why he’s easily one of the best Star Wars characters ever despite being one of the “youngest” in terms of existence.
Almost 1000 words into my The Mandalorian Season 3 Review, and we haven’t gotten to the negatives yet…let’s change that. First, let’s start with the obvious one. If you didn’t watch The Book of Boba Fett? You’re missing key storylines. They even “redid” a scene from that series with a small twist to reinforce Mando’s mission to get to Mandalore so he could bathe in the living waters. But that wasn’t the only “gap” in the knowledge that we got right off the bat.
Because as we find out in Episode 1, Bo-Katan lost every follower she had following the events of Season 2. All because Din had the Darksaber and not her. Why? How? It’s not really made clear, and as a result, we see Bo sulking in a castle…it was odd. Just as odd was how she went from “I’m sending Mando packing when I see him” to “I must rescue him!” all because of Baby Yoda showing up without him. 180 much? And that wasn’t the only 180 in the season.
Another issue I had was storylines conflicting in random ways. For example, in Episode 1, Mando insists on only using the fallen IG-11 droid from Season 1 to help him get to Mandalore. He’s very adamant about it…until he gets to Episode 2, and he takes a random droid from an “old friend,” and…it works fine. But then, even though it technically betrays him later on…Din still refers to the R5 unit as “buddy.” When did they get so close?
Another issue was the Darksaber. In Season 2 and Star Wars Rebels, they noted that the Darksaber would be “deceptively heavier” depending on the users’ thoughts. That’s why Din had trouble using it in battle at times. Yet, when Bo-Katan wielded it every time in Season 3…she had no issues. That included her “final boss fight” against Moff Gideon, where she was anything but calm.
Oh, and despite Mando and Greef Karga being friends, Mando was fine with leaving Nevarro with a pirate cruiser right in orbit…which totally backfired…surprise…
A flaw many pointed out in their watching of the show was how quickly the two tribes of Mandalore bonded once they came together. They used the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” trope a bit too easily to “mend fences.” It honestly contradicts the struggles they had before and the fight over the board game on the way to The Forge. If they could blow up that easily…why do we believe they’ll be good now that the fighting is “done”? I wish we had gotten more time to see their bonds forged beyond in the flames of combat.
Easily one of the two biggest flaws of this season was…The Empire. In truth, we didn’t need them, and yet not only was Grand Moff Gideon the antagonist for the THIRD season in a row…but it ended as predictably as the last two seasons and with no lasting impact on The Empire. Moreover, they did a REALLY slow burn toward Moff’s return, only to show the “shadow council” and…tease the return of Thrawne. That was a flaw with last season AND Book of Boba Fett, focusing on other shows instead of staying in their lane. That was just one of many references to other shows, and while one (ZEB!!!) was great, the others were either very niche or not needed.
This brings us to the other big flaw…filler episodes…again…again. Seriously, how have they NOT figured this out yet? Episodes 3 & 6 can easily be defined as mostly filler episodes. Episode 3 focuses on two characters that didn’t need to come back…all to push forward a clone storyline that was literally washed away without much effort. All so they could show that one character was an idiot and paint the New Republic as fools. Episode 6, as noted wisely by the internet, was basically an RPG sidequest! I am 100% behind that description because it felt that way from nearly start to finish.
Mando and Bo-Katan meet two “special guest stars and get told to do something so they can “get back on their way,” it doesn’t go as planned, and ANOTHER guest star is the bad guy. Surprise…not really. You can literally skip to the end, where they meet the other Mandalorians, and not miss a single thing. In an 8-episode season…that shouldn’t happen. They could’ve ditched those storylines and focused on the Mandalorians working together, and it likely would’ve been much more enjoyable.
Despite the flaws, as my The Mandalorian Season 3 Review hopefully convenes, the good of this show still outweighs the bad. The show is a triumph in showing off an underutilized part of the Star Wars universe, and I’m curious to see where they go next with them, as the lore is a bit murky with Mandalore post-Empire and pre-First Order. There are plenty of things to enjoy here, but you can’t deny that despite being three seasons in, they’re still making mistakes that hold it back from being a masterpiece.
The Mandalorian Season 3 Review
The Mandalorian Season 3 was a welcome return for Mando and Baby Yoda. With the rise of Bo-Katan, we got a big shift in storytelling, and it worked out for the most part. So if you enjoyed the first two seasons, you’ll enjoy this one.